Customers steadily came out with large items like television sets from the Empire Center's Best Buy in Burbank on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012.

Customers steadily came out with large items like television sets from the Empire Center's Best Buy in Burbank on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / November 23, 2012)

A rotating schedule of overnight and early morning store openings significantly checked the Black Friday crowds at the regions major retail destinations, producing a much calmer scene compared to years past.

That's because back then, Black Friday was still confined to early morning store openings, attracting huge crowds of pre-dawn deal-seekers. But this year, with major retailers pushing their opening times further into Thursday territory, the onslaught of shoppers was spread out, leaving relatively normal conditions for those who arrived later in the morning on Friday.

In Burbank, police were deployed to Best Buy and Target overnight Thursday as the first few hundred customers were given wristbands for midnight access. Hundreds more customers, meanwhile, waited in lines that snaked around buildings and into parking lots.

But by 9:30 a.m., the crowds at the Empire Center had subsided substantially. In Target, 11 of the store's 20 check-out lanes were open and the lines weren't exceptionally long.

And that suited some customers, like Elisa Corral, just fine. She started shopping with her daughter, Claudia Corral, at 7 a.m.

“It's not worth it to stay here in the middle of the night,” Elisa Corral, said, adding that she plans to spend less money this holiday season.

Claudia Corral said she preferred the smaller crowds.

“This is just perfect for us,” she said. “I hate shopping and this seems safe.”

Meanwhile, the nearby Best Buy store, which opened at midnight, was packed with lengthy check-out lines.

Brandon Masiel and his girlfriend, Courtney Yancey, were initially in a line outside a store at midnight in Porter Ranch, but they opted not to wait.

“We decided to go home, go ahead and go to sleep and get up early and get out here,” he said as they left the Target store.

At the region's other retail juggernaut, the Glendale Galleria, the staggered opening times had a significant impact on the crowds.

The difference wasn't lost on Eva Hermano, who was shopping with her daughter, Leslie, at the Galleria at 6:30 a.m.

“I said to her, ‘Where are all the people?'” she said.

Many of them had done their early bird shopping at Target, which opened at 9 p.m. Thursday, and Macy's, which opened its doors at midnight, depleting the typical Black Friday crowd before the rest of the mall had even opened.

“There certainly appear to be people who are shopping earlier and probably finishing their shopping around 2 or 3 a.m.,” said Brent Shoenbaum with consulting firm Deloitte & Touche. “The earlier openings draw people in sooner and they leave earlier than the morning shift that typically emerges at 6 a.m.”

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Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.